IBC Medical Home Studies Show Significant Cost Savings for Chronically Ill People

Independence Blue Cross (IBC) announces the results of a series of three-year studies that demonstrate significant reductions in medical costs for patients with chronic conditions treated in primary care practices that have transformed into medical homes. Most notably, diabetic members treated in a medical home practice had 21 percent lower total medical costs, driven by a 44-percent reduction in hospital costs. Lower emergency room costs were seen after one year.

IBC also found reductions in costs for members with chronic conditions such as coronary artery disease, congestive heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, asthma, and hypertension.

“Quality and value in health care begin with strong primary care,” said Daniel J. Hilferty, IBC president and CEO. “In the complex world of health care, one way we’re changing the game is through our support of medical home practices that provide more coordinated, personalized care and give patients the tools and resources they need to take better care of themselves. In this period of unprecedented change in health care, the health care companies that thrive will be those with a bold, clear vision that move rapidly, execute fresh ideas and develop groundbreaking innovations.”

IBC’s studies evaluated 125,000 individuals receiving primary care in 160 medical home practices in southeastern Pennsylvania from 2008 to 2012. The studies, which used a subset of this population, compared members receiving care in medical home practices to members cared for in non-medical home settings, and in practices that became medical homes at a later time.

Patient-centered medical homes improve patient health and lower costs through a team-oriented approach to primary care. This includes more coordinated care among all health care providers, electronic health records to better track care, open scheduling to allow for more flexibility in seeing patients when they need care, and more interaction with the physician and staff between appointments to make sure scheduled tests and consultations occurred.

Practices in the Chronic Care Initiative, Pennsylvania’s pilot medical home initiative, also found that chronically ill people treated in their medical homes took more responsibility for their care and showed marked improvements in important health outcomes. For example, diabetic patients in these practices had:

  • 60 percent improvement in getting LDL (bad cholesterol) under adequate control
  • 45 percent reduction in the number of patients with poorly controlled diabetes
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